Former GM vice chair and Chevrolet Volt protagonist Bob Lutz had more statements to make about the future of Tesla Motors and its products to CBS MoneyWatch.
“I’m certainly a great fan of the Model S. The Model X isn’t working too well because it doesn’t have enough roof structure, so those doors are never going to work. The Model 3 — we’ll see what happens with that. I think it’s going to be delayed again,” Lutz said.
“I would say be prepared for far more delays than you have bought into, and secondly, be prepared to pay more than what you thought you were going to pay,” he said in the interview.
Lutz, who also championed the Via Motors plug-in hybrid pickup conversion company, has been controversial for fans of Tesla’s electric cars. Now age 84, Lutz has led product development and marketing at major carmakers including GM, Chrysler, BMW, and Ford, and his comments do gain media attention.
A virtually equal opportunity offender, Lutz has also said his style since days at GM ran counter to polished upset-no-one policies of that carmaker’s public relations team. He has on other days called the pending 2017 Chevy Bolt EV a compliance car, and said GM is subsidizing the effort by jacking up the prices of its trucks and SUVs.
As for Tesla Motors, Lutz said it is quite vulnerable to this reality of manufacturing and selling cars. Other major automakers – including and beyond GM – are rolling out new plug-in electric vehicles at a “deliberate loss” to gain market share and credibility. Lutz said advantages other major automakers have over Tesla is these losses are offset by traditional cars out on the market, something Tesla can’t do as it only sells all-electric vehicles.
“Tesla has to live off the electrics,” Lutz said. “That’s going to be very tough when everybody else is selling them at a loss.”
Tesla’s business model just doesn’t work. He says that “they’re losing a ton of money” and “running out of cash.”
The biggest challenge, according to Lutz, is the cost of the lithium-ion batteries used in electric vehicles like the Tesla Model S.
“The problem today is that electric cars – because of the battery – cost more to make,” Lutz said.
Lutz has had good things to say about Tesla CEO Elon Musk. In the 2011 documentary, “Revenge of the Electric Car,” Lutz and Musk walked the floors together at the Detroit Auto Show, stopping to check out the Nissan Leaf. Lutz has also credited Tesla’s Roadster with goading him into pushing GM to build the Volt.
Lutz’s assessment of Tesla’s charismatic leader to CBS MoneyWatch also gave credit, while poking holes in Musk’s image at the same time.
“You know, Elon Musk is a wonderful guy. He’s a visionary. He’s personally charming. He’s the eternal optimist,” said Lutz. “[However,] he does make a lot of claims and a lot of statements that as time goes by prove to be not to be quite accurate. Every time somebody tries to focus in on the here and now, he dangles another grand vision in front of them.”